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Delobel, Schoenfelder win European ice dancing title; Meier leads women's event

Delobel, Schoenfelder win European ice dancing title; Meier leads women's event

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder held on to capture the ice dancing title by less than a half-point on Friday, giving France its second gold medal at the European Figure Skating Championships.
Delobel and Schoenfelder won the compulsory and original portions of the competition, but held only a 1.51 point lead over Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia entering the free dance.
The Russians scored 100.39 to the French couple's 99.19 in the free skate, but the difference was not enough to steal the title.
Delobel and Schoenfelder finished with 199.47 points, just ahead of Domnina's and Shabalin's 199.16. World champions Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria were third with 103.73.
In an even tighter women's competition, Sarah Meier leads Carolina Kostner by .03 points after the short program. The free skate is on Saturday.
Dressed in black with silver trim, Delobel and Schoenfelder skated a quick-paced program full of intricate steps, spins and rotations to "Bonnie and Clyde."
It capped an impressive three-day performance from a couple that was not considered the favorite.
"It's great, especially as we came here as outsiders," Schoenfelder said. "Of course, you always believe, but it was difficult. We are still under shock. We have a true fighting spirit, we never give up, and we gave everything."
It is the first European title for the couple. They won the bronze in 2005.
"We've had a perfect competition, we were feeling good till the end and are very satisfied with our performance," Delobel said.
Schoenfelder pumped his fists and both skaters kneeled on the ice gasping for breath after their program. But they had to wait for Domnina and Shabalin to skate before being assured of first place.
And with their dramatic skate to Alexander Borodin's "Polovetsian Dances," Domnina and Shabalin almost managed to keep the European title in Russian hands for the fifth consecutive year.
"Our performance was strong and emotional," Shabalin said. "The others are much more experienced than we are and it's their first chance to win. We just came to compete with them."
"Our goal was to be in the top three and we accomplished that," Domnina added.
World champions Denkova and Staviski trailed by more than five points entering the free dance. They were unable to improve the gap, and couldn't better their 2004 silver medal despite a solid skate.
In the women's event, Switzerland's Meier scored 60.49 to the 60.46 by Italy's Kostner. Elene Gedevahishvili of Georgia was third with 54.62.
Dressed in a neon pink top and flowery dress, Meier nailed her triple lutz-double toe loop combination, plus a triple flip and double axel in an elegant program to "Concerto de Aranjuez."
"I was very, very nervous," the Swiss national champion said. "I'm very proud that I was able to do a good short program."
Kostner was smooth in her first competition since tearing a ligament in her left ankle in September. The injury kept her off the ice for some two months.
"It feels great" to be back, she said. "I was a little more nervous that usual because I know all these girls have been doing competitions all year and this is my first big competition. It's like I'm the outsider."
Kostner finished third at last year's competition behind two Russian skaters _ seven-time European champion Irina Slutskaya and Elena Sokolova.
With Slutskaya absent and Sokolova in eighth place after a shaky short program, Russia could fail to win a medal in the women's event for the first time since 1993.
A day earlier, the Russian men failed to win spot on the podium for the first time since 1993.


Updated : 2021-03-06 07:42 GMT+08:00